Assemblymember Steve Bennett was elected to the Assembly in November 2020 and represents the 37th district that includes the Southern half of Santa Barbara County, as well as the western third of Ventura County.
Born and raised in the Midwest, Steve developed a strong sense of community responsibility. After graduating from Brown University with an Honors Degree in Economics, Steve served his community as a high school Economics and American History teacher for over 20 years. At the same time, he advanced solutions to community problems of urban sprawl, money corrupting politics, and problems encountered by disadvantaged communities.
He was elected to the Ventura City Council in 1993 and served until 1997. There he co-authored the Save Open Space and Agricultural Resources (SOAR) initiatives that have made Ventura County a national leader in land-use planning. SOAR slows urban sprawl by requiring a vote of the citizens before greenbelt areas outside of the cities can be rezoned for development. During his time on the city council, he also authored one of the State’s toughest campaign finance reform laws; as he fought to decrease the role of money in politics.
From 2000 to 2020, Assemblymember Bennett served his community as a Ventura County Supervisor. He first brought fiscally responsible policies to county government. He then led efforts to improve conditions for the disadvantaged and the voiceless. He co-authored a first of its kind Farmworker Resource Program that has dramatically improved the county’s assistance to this vulnerable and valued population. He beat back opposition to the creation of Ventura’s first municipal homeless shelter.
Steve has a particular passion for supporting the foster children of Ventura County and the 11,000 seniors residing in hundreds of nursing facilities. He spent 20 years leading the Board in efforts to improve conditions for foster children and ensure that the thousands of seniors who have outlived their friends and family receive a weekly visit by an Ombudsman solely focused on their welfare in the facility.
Steve launched his bid for the Assembly with a recognition that the window to effectively address climate change is rapidly closing. His first climate change efforts focus on improving storage capacity of renewable energy which is an essential step to achieving the goal of 100% renewable energy.
Steve and his wife Leslie share a passion for education. Leslie spent three decades as a high school Spanish teacher. For the past 14 years, they have shared their home with an immigrant family from Mexico. The experience of their adoptive family has led to a desire to leave a better world for those trapped by growing income inequality. Improved educational options, access to good medical care, and affordable housing are essential to doing that and a focus of Steve’s service in the Assembly.